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Palm Springs gay rights activists haven't forgotten a police sting last summer leading to the arrests of 24 men who were charged with soliciting public sex -- charges that require them to register as sex offenders for life in the state.
In a Sunday article for the San Francisco Chronicle, political reporter and Palm Springs resident Hank Plante writes that the Palm Springs Police Department does not have a single openly gay male police officer in a city where an estimated 30% to 40% of the total population is gay (the department has one openly lesbian officer out of total force of 99 officers, according to Plante).
The lack of diversity, combined with last year's sex sting, where two dozen gay men were arrested after allegedly attempting to solicit sex from undercover officers, is an affront to a city that depends heavily on gay tourism, said veteran activist Cleve Jones.
"They're really shooting themselves in the foot," Jones said. "Gay dollars are keeping this city afloat. Let's get real. The gay events are the largest events in the valley ... And this story has spread far and wide across the world, and it will have an impact because people are angry. It's ridiculous."
One member of the city's policy advisory board, Thomas Van Etten, has called for the firing of police chief David G. Dominguez. "I've called for his resignation because the police chief is using tactics that we have not seen since Stonewall. For the Palm Springs police to pull something like this is incomprehensible," Van Etten said.
Read the full article here.